Teenage and Completely Autonomous Decision-Making: Should Parents Allow This?

There is no space is life where we don’t make decisions, where we don’t exercise choice. Whether it’s what to eat for breakfast or what occupation we choose in our life. Thus, it becomes important for an individual to start making choices early in his life. Is teenage the right age for it? Yes, indeed.

 We all make mistakes, we learn from it and move on in our life. But, it is not as simple as it sounds. It is hard to realize and acknowledge our mistakes, and even harder to move on. Therefore, it becomes necessary to learn that process over a period of time and I believe teenage is the perfect time for it. But, it is not the correct time for completely autonomous decision making. Why? Allow me to explain.

Adoloscent or teenage is the time when our body goes through several changes. We all know that. But, what we don’t get to know at this time, is that our psychology changes as well. There are several studies and experiences that a child separates himself from his family during adolescence, not because he hates them, but he wants to create his own identity. This is when peers come to his life and this is the time where he may go wrong. Albert Bandura, a psychologist and a professor at Stanford, wrote in his research paper about the social cognitive theory. He writes,

“Vicarious learning, or modeling, occurs by observation of others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of the behavior and can increase the likelihood of the observer engaging in the behavior. Thus, observing others’ behavior can also shape our behavior.”

As I said, at a time when peers are close to a child, they can influence the growth, development and behavior of the child. This is when the child needs to regulate himself, but he is not able to, because the environment creates such a situation. Hence, parents and guardians need to step up in that situation. Their experience and support, and sometimes strictness is what the child requires. It is for the goodwill of their own child. Now, this is not at all to say that influence of peers is always bad, but just to tell you how easily a teenager can get manipulated. And, it also has to do something with science, but let’s not get into that.

Now, I would like to ask the teenagers, how many of you wash your bathroom regularly, or iron your own clothes? We don’t even have the time to keep empty vessels from our room to the kitchen. Are we talking about responsibility?

To conclude, i would like to repeat what Aristotle said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” It’s time we understand this and become mature.

A shortened version of this piece was originally spoken by me at the debate competition of the literature fest, Sanhita 2020, organised virtually by Aurum The Global School, Haldwani.

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